The Blue Devils entered the season inside the top 5 of the AP poll, and they will come into the new year inside the top 15. The Blue Zone breaks down movement in the poll around the nation:
Duke walks away with another win
The Blue Devils rang in the new year with a dominant victory over Queens Saturday afternoon to end 2023 at 9-3. While the Royals put up a valiant effort, they were no match for a Duke team that never faltered. An integral member of this team was freshman guard Jared McCain, who scored a season-high 24 points before the game got out of hand in the second half. This follows his impressive 21-point performance against Bayor less than two weeks ago. After leading the Royals 46-33 at halftime, sophomore center Kyle Filipowski came out of the locker room with a bang, scoring five points in less than two minutes. Despite a few fouls, Filipowski ended the game with a total of 19 points and four blocks.
Saturday also saw sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor’s return to action for the first time since November. The star sophomore guard sustained an ankle injury in the Blue Devil’s crushing loss against Georgia Tech just a few weeks ago, and head coach Jon Scheyer took his time bringing Proctor back. Welcomed to center court by the thunderous applause of Duke fans, Proctor went on to score nine points, along with four assists. The game’s other substitutions gave freshmen TJ Power and Sean Stewart a few minutes of playing time, as well as walk-on Spencer Hubbard. The Blue Devils’ victory on Saturday bumped them up two spots in the poll to the No. 14 position, certainly boding well for what awaits the team in 2024.
Florida Gulf Coast pulls off upset
The weekend also saw a stunning upset by Florida Gulf Coast to take the win over then-No. 7 Florida Atlantic 72-68. So far, the Owls’ season has been a mix of impressive wins over high-profile programs like Arizona and rough, unexpected losses. Florida Atlantic made just 4-of-its-20 3-pointers attempted on Saturday, a shocking statistic considering they returned all five starters from their Final-Four run last season. Florida Gulf Coast players Zach Anderson and Dallion Johnson scored 21 and 18 points, respectively, to hand Florida Atlantic the loss that dropped them to No. 17 in the poll.
Gonzaga also fell 11 places in the poll this week after a 84-74 loss to San Diego State Friday night. The Aztecs really came alive at the end of the first half — going on an 11-2 run and taking that momentum into the locker room to come out with an 18-3 run early in the second. This was San Diego State’s fourth straight win of the season and the Zags’ first non-conference home loss since this time eight years ago. With Gonzaga at No. 24 in the poll, the Zags are now in danger of leaving the AP Poll Top 25 for the first time in 142 consecutive weeks.
Top teams continue to dominate
The rest of this week was relatively uneventful, with top teams continuing to put out impressive performances. No. 1 Purdue came out on top against Eastern Kentucky to achieve 35 straight non-conference regular season wins. Although missing his first 3-pointer in his four seasons at Purdue, center Zach Edey still scored 13, extending his own streak of earning at least ten points per game to 64. With their only loss against Northwestern in early December, the Boilermakers are poised to dominate the Big 10 Conference this season.
No. 3 Houston remained undefeated this week with an 81-42 win over Penn. Due to the efforts of senior guards L.J. Cryer and Jamal Shead, the Cougars went on to win their 13th straight home game and secure their spot in the top three yet again. Houston will open Big 12 play when it meets West Virginia in the first week of the new year.
- North Carolina
- Colorado State
- Florida Atlantic
- James Madison
- Ole Miss
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